Fantasy football: Week 2 starters, benchwarmers

Ladd Biro
Special to Packer Plus
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Wondering whether or not to start Zeke Elliott and Antonio Brown, or to bench Scott Tolzien and Brian Quick? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 2 of the 2017 season.


Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks vs. 49ers: Wilson got off to a rough start in Green Bay, but he should bounce back nicely against his divisional rivals. San Francisco’s secondary is still getting used to each other, and they benefited from the sub-par quarterback play they faced in the opener. Wilson should find more room to pass and run, and should score both ways at least once.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders vs. Jets: Lynch looked close to his old self in the opener, despite facing a solid Titans run defense. Now he’ll get to exploit a pathetic defense that surrendered 190 yards on the ground to the Bills. Oakland should visit the red zone frequently, and Lynch will be a primary beneficiary.

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears at Buccaneers: Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, as I scooped up Cohen in both my leagues. But the rookie has not only earned a steady diet of carries (thanks to his 13 yards-per-carry average in Week 1), but he’s likely to remain Chicago’s leading receiver. That’s a nice combo, especially while Jordan Howard is nursing a tender shoulder.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals at Colts: The Colts’ secondary just made Jared Goff look like an All Pro, so this sets up as a nice rebound opportunity for Carson Palmer. As usual, Fitz was his go-to receiver in Week 1, seeing 13 targets in the loss to Detroit. The seasoned duo should produce much better results in Indy.

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots at Saints: Both Stefan Diggs and Adam Thielen came up huge against the Saints, while Tom Brady looked like, well, Sam Bradford against the Chiefs. Get ready for Brady to work out his frustrations in the Big Easy, with both Hogan and Brandin Cooks racking up the fantasy points, boosted by the absence of Danny Amendola (concussion).

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Palmer, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers; RBs Kareem Hunt, Ty Montgomery, Mark Ingram, Jacquizz Rodgers; WRs Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, Davante Adams, Emmanuel Sanders, Tyreek Hill, Tyrell Williams, Adam Thielen.


Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers vs. Vikings: Minnesota’s secondary is a force to be reckoned with, and it will be fascinating to see how the Antonio Brown-Xavier Rhodes showdown plays out. Brown, of course, is a must-start, but his quarterback and fellow receivers aren’t. Best to let Big Ben sit this one out.

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams vs. Redskins: Gurley took a step in the right direction last week, mostly due to his participation in the passing game. But he barely averaged more than 2 yards per carry, which is a huge red flag. Washington’s run defense is showing improvement over last year’s soft unit, and it could present an obstacle to Gurley’s return to his fantasy owners’ good graces.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings at Steelers: The rookie had a nice NFL debut, though 65 of his 127 rushing yards came in the fourth quarter against a tired and over-matched Saints defense. Pittsburgh’s run defenders are far superior, and will not be as hospitable as New Orleans was. Cook will learn what a tougher NFL defense looks like this week.

Golden Tate, WR, Lions at Giants: It’s not his finger I’m worried about. It’s Janoris Jenkins. But even if Tate doesn’t draw Jenkins in coverage, the rest of the talented New York secondary is plenty capable of limiting his ceiling. Matt Stafford was sharp last week, but the going gets tougher on Monday night.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins at Chargers: Jay Cutler gets a tough draw for his Miami debut, facing a pair of shutdown corners who excel at cutting off the deep ball. Hopes are high for the downfield threat of Parker combined with Cutler’s gun-slinging style, but the dividends aren’t likely to start paying this week.

More thumbs down: QBs Jay Cutler, Jameis Winston, Eli Manning, Kirk Cousins, Dez Bryant, Carson Wentz; RBs Jonathan Stewart, Bilal Powell, Rob Kelley, LeGarrette Blount, Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, Paul Perkins, Ameer Abdullah; WRs T.Y. Hilton, Sammy Watkins, Allen Hurns, Kendall Wright, Corey Coleman, Marvin Jones, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martavis Bryant, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Terrelle Pryor, Cole Beasley, Corey Davis.


Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams vs. Redskins: Washington’s secondary was awful in the opener, especially against slot receivers. That’s where Kupp found his groove with Goff in the opener. It’s clear this tandem is in sync, and they should keep up their positive momentum on Sunday.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO… releases David Johnson. At least not yet. I realize many of you have already made this decision, but I think you’ll live to regret it. Last year’s Fantasy MVP is projected to miss the next 8-12 weeks. Obviously, that’s the majority of the fantasy season. But he could recover more quickly, and just imagine the boost he’ll provide for your playoff run. It’s too early to punt.

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and five-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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